Making Jewelry at Burning Man

Hello All:

A few months ago, I announced that part of my summer vacation would
be spent at Burning Man in Black Rock, NV, just outside of Reno. This
was a profound experience for me both personally and professionally.
For anyone who is thinking of going, all I can say is, just do it.
There are 35,000 artisans who attend who have the mindset of Orchid.
Quite refreshing to see so many generous and friendly people.

Burning Man is hard to describe. Simply stated, Burning Man is for
me, color, community and art. Lots of art. Fabulous art cars that
glow in the night gliding on the Playa (large area), stomping art and
music raves in 4 story wood sculptures and people in costumes, music
and a beat that you can’t get out of your head. For more info, go to:

Who goes to Burning Man? Everyone. Large, small, petite, huge, old,
young and in between. I met people who were lawyers, surgeons,
building contractors, life coaches and kindergarten teachers. Why do
they go to Burning Man? The answer is different for everyone.

BM has no commerce or money exchanged outside of drinks in the main
caf=e and ice. BM is mainly a gifting economy. You can get something
for free, but if you give a gift in return, you are thanked and
remembered. For example, you can get a free drink from one of the bar
cars, but if you gift, your drink will come with ice.

Everyone is there to give something. I received stickers for my
sketchbook, a glass of wine at the Barbie Death Camp and Wine Bistro,
a lovely banana on the way to the Playa, to an elegant 3 course
dinner in the desert. More about that later. Since this was my first
time, I wanted to give something to the Burning Man community that
was meaningful to the people who lived their for a short time. Resin
inlay became the choice as the process involved more than just
handing out something to the public.

Inspired by Brian Adam and his concept of Street Jewelry, our theme
camp, Oasis 47 created a little classroom. Before traveling, I met
with my friend and Metalwerx studiomate Mark Selander. He created
illustrations for pendants, one for my camp mates at Oasis 47 and one
for Burning Man. We sent the illustrations to Jill Kenik from
Acropolis Studio who converted them to CAD and then into wax. The
waxes were sent to Dan Grandi at Racecar Jewelry who produced 20
sterling Oasis 47 pendants and 250 white bronze for the Burning Man.
The entire education and production process would never have been
possible had it not been for Orchid. Kudos to Ganoksin and Orchid.

The night before my flight, I placed an order with Rio Grande of
epoxy, jumprings and Greek leather cord to be shipped to my friend’s
in Santa Barbara. My supplies all arrived at our camp, Oasis 47. I
showed my campmates, 15 of us, how to grind the Playa dust and other
spices for color and mix them with the epoxy. They totally fell in
love and began working on their pendants. Other Burners saw their
pendants and wanted one of course. We set up a time, 4-6 pm and with
no advertising, the word got out quickly. Soon a line was forming
every day at 4pm. All 250 pendants were quickly gulped up.

What a great experience to teach other artists about resin inlay.
They all loved it and said it was the greatest part of attending
Burning Man. This was the perfect project as it involved community
interaction and art. All the attendees had time to talk, mingle and
create. People kept asking me, if I didn’t want to be at “work.”
It’s hardly work when you are doing what you love.


Karen Christians
50 Guinan St.
Waltham, MA 02451
Ph. 781/891-3854 Fax 3857
Jewelry/Metalarts School & Cooperative Studio